Sports bubble keeps growing as billionaire Milwaukee Bucks owner reaches deal to sell stake at $3.5 billion valuation, source says

Marc Lasry
Marc Lasry, then-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, hold up the Larry O'Brien Trophy after winning the 2021 NBA Finals.
Joe Murphy—NBAE/Getty Images

Billionaire investor Marc Lasry has reached a deal to sell his stake in the Milwaukee Bucks to Jimmy and Dee Haslam, owners of the National Football League’s Cleveland Browns, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The sale of Lasry’s 25% stake, which is still pending approval by the National Basketball Association and its owners, values the team at about $3.5 billion, said the person, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. 

In 2014, Lasry — chairman and chief executive officer of Avenue Capital Group — acquired the Bucks with Fortress Investment Group Co-CEO Wes Edens for roughly $550 million. Since then the team has gone on to appear in two Eastern Conference finals led by star player Giannis Antetokounmpo, and also won an NBA championship in 2021. The deal for Lasry’s stake would yield a more-than sixfold increase in his initial investment nine years ago. 

NBA teams are increasingly hot targets. In December, Mat Ishiba, CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, reached a deal for a majority stake in the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury in one of the biggest transactions in NBA history, valuing the teams at $4 billion. 

At a valuation of $3.5 billion, the Bucks would fetch one of the highest valuations ever in a deal for a US sports franchise, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Denver Broncos sold for $4.65 billion last year while the New York Mets changed hands for $2.4 billion in 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

A spokesperson for Lasry didn’t respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the Haslam family and Avenue Capital declined to comment. ESPN reported that Lasry had secured a deal earlier Monday.

Lasry, said the person familiar with the matter, is in discussions to build a sports investment fund as well. The fund would look to acquire stakes in professional teams, in addition to adjacent businesses including sports betting and media rights.

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